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Phil Mickelson responds to Rory McIlroy's softened LIV Golf stance and says time for end to 'needless disdain' in golf

"Let's not use this as an opportunity to pile on. It's time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future," says LIV's Phil Mickelson in response to Rory McIlroy's remarks; golf year starts Thursday at The Sentry - live on Sky Sports Golf at 6pm

Image: Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy in conversation during a practice round at Augusta in 2020

Phil Mickelson has welcomed Rory McIlroy's softened stance towards LIV and declared it is "time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future" for golf.

Amid ongoing discussions between golf's established tours and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the backers of LIV Golf, over a deal to unify the sport, McIlroy, who has been an arch critic of the breakaway series and the players who initially joined it in 2022, said he had now "accepted" that LIV was "part of our sport now".

Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast with Sky Bet, McIlroy also conceded he had made a "mistake" by being "too judgemental" in his outspoken views towards those who originally defected, a group of high-profile players which included six-time major champion Mickelson.

Two-time major champion Jon Rahm became the latest big name to join LIV, signing up in December.

Writing on X replying to a post which contained some of McIlroy's comments from the interview, Mickelson said: "This quote and the many others made by Rory probably weren't easy to say.

"Let's not use this as an opportunity to pile on. Rather, it's time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future.

"Rahm's' signing is turning into a bridge to bring both sides together, as evidenced by the many comments today and a month ago about changing the rules for the Ryder Cup so Jon and others can play, so let's use it as such.

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"Until an agreement is reached it will be business as usual for both sides but hopefully without the needless disdain."

Masters champion Rahm's defection to LIV from 2024 appeared to coincide with a shift in public stance from McIlroy.

"Jon has not got any of the heat that the first guys got for going," McIlroy said on the podcast.

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Rory McIlroy is hoping that the Ryder Cup rules surrounding LIV Golf players' eligibility will be amended so Jon Rahm can take part in 2025.

"I think Jon, he's smart. And I think he sees things coming together at some point. I thought it was a smart business move. It was opportunistic.

"I have no problem with Jon going if that's what he wants to do. Who am I to say different?"

McIlroy 'would love' LIV to be 'IPL of golf'

McIlroy also suggested that he would like to see LIV become akin to what the Indian Premier League (IPL) is to cricket.

He said that the creation of the Saudi-backed league had "exposed some of the flaws" in professional golf, which he now hoped would be corrected in time.

"To me, what I would love LIV to turn into is almost the IPL of golf," said McIlroy. "The IPL in cricket, they take two months during the calendar.

"You've got your four weeks in May and your four weeks in November and you go and do this team stuff and it's a bit different and it's a different format.

"If they were to do something like that I'd be, 'yeah, that sounds like fun' because you are at least working within the ecosystem. It's not like the Saudis in football are trying to take over the entire sport.

"The Saudis basically exposed some of the flaws in the structures of professional golf and they could come in with $1bn or $2bn, which couldn't even buy you a football club in some instances. But they have been able to completely disrupt our game with that money.

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